Fambrough: Great games played for love of the game add spice to high school sports life

Contrary to any rumors making the rounds Friday night, no one called the fire department to put out the grass at Memorial Stadium.

St. Thomas More’s 39-38 victory over Catholic High was hotly contested but left an impression and no burn marks on Memorial’s natural turf. When teams combine for 859 yards of offense, a turf can take a little beating.

The STM-Catholic game and many others played in Week 3 of the LHSAA’s COVID-19 altered season were awesome to watch. The games have done the thing we all hoped for — they have brought the thrill of high school football back.

The 25 percent COVID-19 restriction on seating favors schools who play at larger venues such as Memorial. It is awful for the average fan, who does not have the option of walking up to any stadium and buying a ticket to see the game of their choice. And I hate that.

With a band playing and lots of action on the field, the football games are what they need to be in 2020 — the chance all the schools wanted for their teams to play football. The same is true for volleyball, cross country and swimming competitors too.

Which is why any consternation about somebody using these 2020 circumstances to gain an advantage amuses and frustrates me. Think back seven months to mid-March. No one was playing and spring sports teams with deserving senior players lost their last season to the pandemic.

It is tough to watch teams cancel games because of COVID-19 issues. But it was not unexpected. Will that mean a team might gain an advantage by picking up another game? Maybe.

Please kept one key fact in mind — games and meets are a way to measure seasons. But in 2020, the joy of a game should be most important for all of us — athletes, coaches, fans and sportswriters.

Last dance?

The past two St. Thomas More-Catholic High games have been decided by a total of three points, with each school claiming a victory. And that may well be where the series ends, at least for now.

Catholic athletic director J.P. Kelly said the two schools have been unable to find a common open date for 2021. Kelly said the Bears are in the process of finalizing four nondistrict opponents for 2021-22.

If the two teams do not play, the Cougars will become a second notable team no longer on the Bears’ schedule. A series with Zachary ended before the 2019 season.

Legislature everywhere?

A Senate bill that would require the LHSAA to put four legislators on its executive committee will continue to be a talking point in the weeks ahead.

Athletics are certainly a focal point for schools, along with education. So, will legislators require spots on the state’s top education groups of authority such as the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education too? Something to ponder. 

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